Brave new world on doorstep

Peter Farago
THE FIRST residents to move into Geelong’s newest suburb will be encouraged to walk a mile in their own shoes, according to plans tabled at City Hall this week.
Residents will be encouraged to abandon their cars as they move into new “walkable neighbourhoods” measuring 1.6 kilometres in diameter and boasting mixed-use activity centres including local shops and parkland within walking distance of 22,000 dwellings.
The walkable neighbourhood concept is a key focus of a residential development strategy for the Armstrong Creek Urban Growth Area Plan.
The plan estimates the suburban growth area to Geelong’s south has a potential population of 54,000, with two new train stations plus a possible rail link to Torquay.
The plan also identifies locations for regional shopping centres boasting supermarkets, department stores and provision for two government secondary schools.
While the first homes would be built along Torquay Road and expand south from Marshall, council’s plan also identifies where major roads and public transport corridors should be built.
The plan also includes an east-west link connecting Geelong’s bypass to Surf Coast Highway, Barwon Heads Road and, ultimately, Portarlington Road, although it isn’t stipulated whether this would be a direct continuation of the freeway.
While abandoning the car is perhaps the biggest environmental focus in the suburb, the plan also includes other green regulations to require solar water heaters and rainwater tanks for all new buildings.
The report recommends exploring recycled water use options like a third pipe system.
The plan provides a strategic blueprint for the suburb, although how it is implemented depends very much on the whim of developers, council and even State Government.
Geelong’s council has a recent history of ordering strategic planning reviews as developers step forward with new proposals to alter the region’s landscape.
If at least local government can put this groundwork into action, Geelong’s new suburb could become an example of how residential planning can benefit developers and residents.